Monday, April 25, 2011

African American Research - Pre and Post WWII

The Green Book Travel Guide
Did you know about the Green Book that guided African Americans safely across America? Every African American has a story about the hardships segregation put on travelers, but few know of this travelers aid.  Victor H. Green, supposedly a postal worker, collected names of African American friendly establishments using fellow postal workers information and published it in a travel guide.  This traveler's guide, which began in New York,  provided hotels and other establishments essential for safe travels and to secure temporary housing around the nation since most hotels did not allow Negro patrons.

The Green Book and Research
From a genealogist point of view, the Green Book may help trace movements of your family between 1936 to as late as the 1960's.  Although once popular, The Green Book, eventually covered all the states. It is a forgotten source for family historians to scour for businesses, locations, and records.  By the late 1940's the Green book covered establishments in Alaska, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.  At that time the Negro Motorist Green Book was .75¢. and carried contradictory marketing 1) "Travel is fatal to prejudice" - Mark Twain 2) "Travel Strengthens America."
But this guide is a great tool for family research. Paired with historical maps, land plats, and legal documents, and African American newspapers, the researcher may find that the Green Book tells just a bit more about their family and movements.   

How We Use It
At a3Genealogy, we find this resource especially helpful when researching  WWII era subjects. This guide may help you follow a path from where your soldier was discharged to their hometown. Boarding home records may have been salvaged in the form of diaries or taxes or account books.  This too can be helpful when tracing that allusive traveling ancestor.

As genealogists, we must walk in our family's footsteps and for African American descendants The Green Book illuminates many of our ancestor's paths. 

Kathleen Brandt

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When USA Imported Jamaicans as Labor Workers: WWII

Jamaican agricultural laborers doing laundry in buckets
at a Farm Security Administration Camp: Library of Congress

Why Jamaicans Were Imported to US in 1945?
It's not often we hear about the role of Jamaicans and our other Caribbean neighbors' role during WWII. Many Jamaicans fought with Britain, even though Britain granted Jamaica a new constitution that provided for limited internal self government in 1944; and, of course there were aliens who fought with the USA and allies;  but, some contributions were less noted as they were overshadowed by war activities.

In the midst of the WWII, the U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized temporary importation of 75,000 Bahamians and Jamaicans to work as farm laborers due to a shortage of needed workers. These legal aliens worked in south Florida fields, and in apple fields in NY, and in other east coast farm fields. It was a win-win situation. Our Jamaican neighbors were able to earn better wages, and the USA was in such dire need for laborers, so they even provided transport to the workplace. 

US Army Transport (USAT) George S. Simonds
US Navy photo # NH 103412 from the collections of the US Naval Historical Center
The USAT George S. Simonds, from August 1944 into early 1946, served between the Caribbean and the U.S. East Coast, mainly transporting Jamaican workers. 

Transported by US Ships to Work in Fields
A reader wants to know:
The ship is the SS U.S.A.T General George S. Simonds, I assume a military ship??? Under the column where the relative the person was going to visit is usually indicated, the passenger list states “War Manpower Commission, Washington D.C.” There is also a hand written note “Section 1325 title Vll public law 373 June 28, 1944”. Do you know why all these Jamaicans would have been brought to the US by the government in 1945?
email dated 20 April 2011
The "Head Tax Laborer" example supplied by the reader is dated 25 Jan, 1945. 

The Ship Manifest

For More Information (NARA)
The National Archives houses four microfilm rolls. Microfilm publication A3394, Passenger Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Arriving at Port Everglades, Florida, February 1932-May 1951, explains that this record group reproduces passenger lists of vessels and airplanes arriving at Port Everglades, Florida, February 15, 1932 - May 7, 1951 (Part of the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group (RG) 85.)

Roll 2, Vessels--Aliens: May 12-24, 1945. Consists solely of Jamaican agricultural workers imported temporarily by the War Food Administration, Office of Labor, Atlanta, Georgia, aboard U.S.A.T. General George S. Simonds, on May 12, 18, and 24. The vessel passenger lists include both alien and citizen arrivals. The ports of departure included the British West Indies (including Jamaica, Bahamas, and Trinidad), Cuba, the Netherlands West Indies (Aruba), Canal Zone, and Honduras. Most were commercial vessels. Included, however, on Rolls 1–3 are U.S. Army Transport (“USAT”) vessels carrying British West Indies (BWI) citizens (primarily Jamaican) imported temporarily as agricultural laborers by the Atlanta, Georgia, branch of the Office of Labor, a component of the War Food Administration.

Does This Still Exist?
Administrative records relating to the temporary importation of Jamaican agricultural workers into the U.S. might be found in Records of the Office of Labor (War Food Administration), RG 224, as well as in Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture RG 16. The functions of the War Food Administration (WFA) reverted to the Secretary of Agriculture upon abolishment of the WFA and its components, effective June 30, 1945, by Executive Order 9577.

 Be Historically Correct!
Kathleen Brandt
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Importance of Libraries to Family Historians

National Library Week, April 10-16
Recently I penned a white paper for supporting the importance of libraries and librarians to genealogists and our family research.  In writing this article, I was certain to touch on libraries of all sizes, niches, and in a variety of regions. See what the librarians told me.

Kim Bonen of the public library of Aberdeen South Dakota was able to recently prove a client's family rumor by using her in-house index.  Certain questions can be easily answered with the aid of a small town's library.
Jean Lythgoe, a walking wealth of knowledge on Rockford, IL, Winnebago County, was able to bring down a brick wall on a client file using the Rockfordiana, a collection of newspapers. Jean reminds us that our research is successful only with the help of our knowledgeable librarians.
Jeremy Drouin, in the Missouri Valley Special Collections, best explains why I frequently visit this repository for my Missouri research. Local collections can be the first step to bringing down that brick wall in your research.  I relied on this special collection of books to research for the Ashley Judd episode of Who Do You Think You Are? 
Cheryl Lang outlines library programs offered at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence Mo.

What does your library do for you? Join the conversation.

Kathleen Brandt

To read the full white paper visit: National Library Week 2011: The Importance of Libraries in Genealogical Research. 

From blog: 
Libraries have long been an important resource for genealogists and family historians, and the advent of sophisticated digital archiving technology has further solidified their integral role to the family history researcher. Many libraries boast multiple public record databases and decades of archived newspaper pages, in addition to many other historical resources.

Unfortunately, in recent years, many libraries have been forced to cut back due to budget restrictions. That's why, in honor of National Library Week this week, we have started an awareness campaign to help keep local libraries well-funded and operational within our communities.

Expert Genealogist Kathleen Brandt conducted interviews with several important researchers and compiled her findings into an article, which you can download below.

Additionally, we've put together a visual graphic representing this pivotal moment for the American library system, taking a look at American attitudes toward libraries and reviewing their financial predicament.

We are asking every single librarian, teacher, and concerned citizen to help us spread the message of why libraries are important to the family history community. If you would like to take part in our awareness campaign, please share these resources with your readers, friends, and family, and help us celebrate National Library Week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finding Your Civil War Ancestor

Uncovering Your Ancestor's Story

Your blue and gray ancestral stories are waiting to be told.  With the sesquicentennial of the civil war igniting family researchers and local history buffs to uncover their civil war ancestor's histories, local museums and State Archives and Historical Societies are expecting increased visitation numbers, and online magazines have joined in the celebration. 

From the attack of Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861 to the end of the four year Civil War, over 620,000 soldiers, died in combat. Some bodies remained on the battlefields, others made it home to the family to mourn the remains; and some heroic efforts  became well known and still warrant a chapter in our history books. 
Incidents of the War, Library of Congress
But, you must be warned, expect some surprises. Although many of the civil war stories start off the same: "Little Johnny went off to serve in the war. and left his young bride with child" the rest of the story is unique to your soldier.

AARP online magazine has recently added a Genealogy channel. To unearth your Civil War ancestor's story, you may wish to begin with the following article: Researching Your Civil War Ancestry penned by Kathleen Brandt.  If you are new to digging for Civil War ancestors, be sure to peruse the five (5) online resource links outlined to begin your search by determining your veteran's service history.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Genealogists and Politicians

You Can't Change the Records

Politicians have historically known that their past and their ancestral histories are "our" business.  There are public records: ship manifest, census, land,  birth, marriage and death records, and county histories awaiting to illuminate ancestral pasts - especially if you have political aspirations, or ever served.  Public officials don't get to "sensationalize" their Pioneer Family stories. 

Genealogists and historians are waiting to check the facts.  This is not due to our political views, family research is merely our passion. Plus we know when towns were settled, we study migratory maps and probabilities of immigrant migration patterns - and we have specialists in Norwegian, Swedish, German, you name it.  We use a set formula to estimate generational timeframes (24 years), we know when the government proffered land grants, and we can outline when Iowa was settled by counties and using formation maps verify when new counties were created. Using social histories we offer reasons to not only why your ancestor might have chosen Iowa,  but we can analyze counties and settlements to support their choices. Sure, we don't know what they were thinking but we can pull weather and news from early newspapers, diaries and books to determine what they persevered.

So when Michelle Bachmann presented a "made for Hollywood" version of her genealogy, believe me, the genealogy social media boards lit up.  And, the overall consensus was "We don't think so!!!" and  "That's not possible!" The interest was not in Bachmann, but in the telling of her genealogy.  (So hold your political comments). 

Challenge to Family Historians/Genealogists
As a challenge to genealogists and family historians, I would ask that you 1) listen to Bachmann's speech for genealogical clues.  2) write down her account of family history facts; and 3) make a checklist of what you could verify. No need to do the research Chris Rodda did it for us. But how keen were you to picking out the genealogical facts given by Bachmann?  Did any raise a red flag? The last step is to read Chris Rodda's research results: Michelle Bachmann Lies About Her Own Family History To Sound More Iowan.

We Support Our Statements via Documents
Genealogists are not necessarily in the business of "fact finding," but it is the end result of our research.  Our statements, and analysis must be supported by documents and valid sources.  And, we don't get the option of eliminating or rewriting history.  Just tell it as it was.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Native American Tribal Enrollment

How to Become an "Indian"?

Once, twice a week I get inquires for assistance with Native American family research. This genealogy research can be quite rewarding, but I must discourage prospective clients from expecting Native Indian tribal membership as a result of a genealogy search. Simply said you can't become a Native American, if you weren't born as one.  Seriously, you must have Native American blood.  The last time you could have electively been an "Indian" was when you were playing a child's game.  

Genealogy for Native American Tribal Enrollment
Native American ancestry, does not necessarily result into Native American tribal enrollment. As with all ancestral research, the largest benefit is uncovering your ancestors. A paper trail of birth certificates, death and marriage certificates, and other documents may be found linking yourself to an enrolled ancestor. But for enrollment each tribe has specific rules, and regulations that must be met. For example:
  • NY Native American Mohawks are only recognized through a mother's enrollment. Then a 1/4 blood quantum must be proven.
  • Eastern Band of Cherokees must prove to be descendant from a person on the Baker Roll AND have a minimum of 1/16 blood quantum.
  • United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee must prove to be descendent from a person on the Dawes Roll AND have minimum of 1/4 blood quantum.
  • Cherokee Nation of Oklahomans must prove to be a descendent from a person on the Dawes Roll. No blood quantum requirement.
Can DNA Help Prove My Native American Ancestry?
Although there are markers that may indicate Native American bloodline, DNA testing does not verify specific tribes.  And even though DNA spawns great genealogical interests, it isn't a tool for proving ancestral relationships.

If your end desire is to forego the ancestry research and leap forward to Native American benefits please take note of the following: 1) not all Tribes or Nations are Federally recognized  2) tribal rights, finances, benefits, etc vary from tribe to tribe.  3) you must prove your relationship to the tribe.

So before contacting the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the Tribal leaders Directory: you will want to have sketched your pedigree to determine your possible blood quantum. Again, required amounts are determined by the enrolling tribe.

Other Vocabulary and Contacts
AIHEC = American Indian Higher Education Consortium:

BIA = US Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Education, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240-0001 You may also reach the bureau of Indian affairs at 1-800-332-9186)

BIE = Bureau of Indian Education; Bureau of Indian Education

CIB = certificate of Indian blood is or proof of membership with federally recognized tribes